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13th Year Expands to Rainier Beach High School

Rainier Beach welcomes in the 13th Year program.

13th Year Expands to Rainier Beach High School

Eyes widened and smiles emerged as South Seattle Community College President Gary Oertli made the big announcement on Nov. 20:  South’s 13th Year Promise Scholarship is coming to Rainier Beach High School. The 13th-Year Promise Scholarship offers one free year of tuition for graduating seniors from Cleveland High School, Chief Sealth International High School, and now Rainier Beach High School.

“This gives me a chance,” Rainier Beach senior Taylor Allen said after hearing the news.  “High school is getting ready for college and college is getting ready for the real world.  This is our time; this is the new Rainier Beach.”

The scholarship, which is privately funded by the South Seattle Community College Foundation, also offers academic support to scholars as they transition from high school to college. President Oertli broke the news to Rainier Beach’s seniors during a surprise announcement at their school, followed by a resounding round of applause.

“It’s important for us not just to see these students come to our campus, but to walk across the graduation stage,” Oertli explained.  “The 13th Year program sets up its student to not only succeed in the classroom, but in life after graduation.  The scholarship has made a lasting impact on hundreds of students and thanks to the generosity of our donors we will be able to continue that legacy at Rainier Beach.”

VIP guests who attended the announcement included Seattle Community College Chancellor Jill Wakefield, Seattle Community College Board of Trustee Member Albert Shen, South Seattle Community College’s Foundation Board Chair Gene Colin, Seattle City Council President Sally Clark and Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell.

Harrell, a product of the Seattle community, is a first-generation college graduate who shared the importance of this opportunity based on his own experience.

“Your enrollment is up, your test scores are up and today you were awarded a scholarship,” Councilmember Harrell said to Rainier Beach’s seniors.  “So this is an exciting day and I say we have no excuses to fail.  So now when someone asks you what you are going to do next year I want you to say one thing: ‘I will learn how to succeed,’ and South Seattle Community College will teach you how to succeed.”

The success of South Seattle Community College’s 13th Year Scholarship is based on research from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that found one year of college often becomes a “tipping point” for students to continue on with their education and earn a living wage.  It was created to provide the opportunity to our communities’ graduating seniors, particularly those in underrepresented groups including students of color, low-income students and first-generation college students.

This fall, the students from Rainier Beach and other 13th Year Scholars will come to campus with those same wide eyes, but they will be well-prepared to start the journey to reach their academic dreams. See more information on the 13th Year Promise Scholarship.